Words by Warrior Actual.
Two student employees of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis Missouri plead guilty to destroying and misfiling over 1800 U.S. veteran’s personnel records. Lonnie Halkmon has already been sentenced to two years probation and 40 hours of community service. Stanley Engram, 21, who will be sentenced on February 7th could be sentenced anywhere from probation to up to six months in prison for the misdemeanor charge.
Among the charges Engram admitted to were abandoning files in the center and disposing of records in the trash at his home. Also he discarded records in a nearby wooded area. Overall he claims he either misfiled, intentionally misplaced or destroyed over 1000 records.
Halkmon, on the other hand, denied that any records were destroyed or intentionally stashed, he simply lacked proper training and that lead to the misfiling and loss of the records in question. It was concluded later through a tribunal handling the separate issue of Halkmon’s unemployment benefits, that these claims were not accurate. The lawyer representing Halkmon wanted to express the employee’s remorse for the misplacement of the records and reiterate that none of them had been destroyed or disposed of. Halkmon, an employee since 2005, made the decision to resign rather than be fired.
As a result of this incident, an audit of all the personnel records assigned to each individual employee in 2011 and 2012 was made. The audit encompassed over 40 employees, most of which had a less than 3% rate of error. Halkmon, however, had over 1200 records assigned to him and 850 of those were unaccounted for. It was discovered that four additional workers had abnormally high rates of error and were given the choice to either resign or be terminated. Employees claimed that due to the high requirements to receive incentive bonuses, records were often stashed or misfiled in order to show higher productivity rates.
The most concerning issue regarding abandoned and misplaced files is the fact that the files contained names and social security numbers of the personnel creating a great identity security threat, not to mention, the difficulty it could cause veterans who count on their files to be in order to receive benefits. The National Personnel Records Center holds over 100 million records dating back as early as the 1800s with approximately 57 million being those of military personnel.